This final post on the differences between Protestant thought and Catholic thought show my own personal views on why I chose the Protestant thinking about justification and sanctification. Again, this is not a bashing of one side, this is what seems to make the most sense to me personally. Others will disagree and that is okay. It is good to have conversations about these topics. In the following posts, we will look more at salvation and different modes and beliefs.
The Catholic view combines faith with baptism and penance as the instrumental cause of justification, but also seems to have a distorted view of grace. By proposing that grace is an infused power, grace has been changed from God’s unmerited favor to something which man merits justification. The Catholic view on justification and sanctification seems to have a different view of justification by faith than Romans three and four seem to imply.
The idea that a person has to cooperate with God is something that I do not agree with. To me, it seems to take something away from God and makes faith and grace dependent on something a person does. I believe faith and grace are a gift of God, and for a person to have to do something and cooperate with God seems to imply a very small view or inappropriate view of God. The belief in having to do works and the process of justification takes away from the all-sufficient, completely efficacious sacrifice of Christ. The justification process of staying in grace through works and trying to become more righteous seems to say that faith, the cross, and Jesus was not enough or sufficient for salvation.
In regards to the Eucharist, I do not believe that communion either inherently conveys grace or is it a participation in the actual sacrifice of Christ. This seems contrary to what Scripture says that Christ’s work in finished (Heb 9:18; 10:10-14, 18). Since Christ has been sacrificed for sin, raised from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sitting at the right hand of God until the time of His return, I personally cannot agree with the physical presence of Jesus in the elements.
While works are certainly important and are evidence of true and saving faith, they are not necessary to preserve or earn salvation. A person is not saved because they pray the rosary, obey the pope or attend mass. Rather, it is those who have put their faith in Jesus for the hope of their salvation. From everything I have been taught about justification, I hold to the biblical doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (Eph 2:8-10). Catholics teach a faith plus “meritorious works” in order to be saved. Protestants recognize that works are important, but they believe they are a result or fruit of salvation and never a means to it. Catholics blend justification and sanctification together into one ongoing process, which leads to confusion about how one is saved.